issue raised in
Attorneys for the plaintiffsBy Debra Barayuga
note that abuse victims have
not collected a cent
Agapita Trajano, whose son Archimedes was summarily executed under the regime of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, had vowed to seek justice.
But she died here in Honolulu last year without seeing justice done.
That's because a year and a half after nearly 10,000 human rights victims reached a $150 million settlement against Marcos' estate, they have yet to see a dollar or peso of that money, said Robert Swift, lead counsel for the plaintiff class.
Meanwhile, Marcos' widow Imelda; son, Ferdinand Jr., and daughter, Imee Marcos-Manotoc continue to live lavishly, travel to the United States and run for the Philippine Congress.
"A settlement not funded only becomes a laughingstock," Swift said yesterday in arguing for a termination of the settlement so the plaintiffs can collect from Marcos' widow, son and daughter individually. Many of the human rights victims and their heirs are getting old, dying and living in abject poverty, he said. "We simply want to get them paid."
Yesterday, visiting U.S. District Judge Manuel Real of California granted a termination of the settlement agreement as to Agapita Trajano.
He also continued the hearing to Sept. 11 to give the parties more time to comply with the settlement with the help of the U.S, Philippine and Swiss governments.
Real also ordered the Marcoses to appear for depositions in the United States next month and to bring their financial documents with them so assets they claim they don't have can be located, and to determine the source of the income and funds they expend on a daily basis.
The Marcoses have accrued $187,000 in contempt fines for failure to provide documents and appear for depositions. Real said he has seen no "good faith effort" by Imelda Marcos to make good on the settlement.
James Paul Linn, attorney for Marcos, said she signed the agreement and is willing to make payment but doesn't have that kind of money. She is trying to get the settlement paid by the escrow account but the Philippine courts have blocked the transfer, he said.
Meanwhile, the Marcoses are living off the generosity of relatives and friends. "I believe they are living off what they can borrow," Linn said.
While Imelda Marcos and son Ferdinand Jr. gave depositions in New York in 1992, they offered no information about any financial assets, said Sherry Broder, another attorney for the plaintiffs. Since then, they have continued to live the life of the "super rich," she said.
Imelda Marcos rented a 747 to travel back to the Philippines. She recently held a birthday party where she gave each woman who attended a glass slipper with a pearl in it. Her children have run expensive campaigns for the Congress of the Philippines and for governor of Ilocos Norte. Daughter Imee has a gold jewelry collection of historical value that has been on display at museums in the Philippines.
"So their assertion that they have no money or they have no access to any assets and are living on loans from friends for 14 years after Marcos was deposed and 11 years after his death is simply not credible," Broder said.
Plaintiff attorneys are pleased Real granted the partial termination of the settlement agreement and say they intend to use all efforts possible to collect.
A federal jury in Hawaii awarded a $2 billion judgment for the class-action suit in 1994 but the plaintiffs agreed to the "discounted" $150 million.
The jury reached a judgment of $4.5 million for Trajano alone, but the issue of service on Imee Marcos-Manotoc has been pending for nearly six years in the Philippine Supreme Court.
Real's order allows them to pursue full recovery, Broder said. The Trajanos would have gotten only a pro rata share of the settlement amount.